Community

Proposed mixed-use development sparks controversy

By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

In a highly anticipated Markham council meeting held on Sept. 5, council members and concerned citizens gathered to discuss a significant development proposal put forth by Juniper Cornell Holdings Inc.

This proposal seeks to transform a 7.95-hectare parcel of land located at 6950 Highway 7 East, northwest of Highway 7 and Bur Oak Avenue, into a mixed-use development featuring eleven buildings ranging from 4 to 28 stories.

This subject land is seated directly west of land already slated for development and will drastically change the landscape of Ward 5.

The proposed development aims to create a mixed-use complex comprising approximately 2,229 residential units and 36,101 square metres of non-residential space. The non-residential space includes offices, a hotel, and retail establishments. Additionally, the plan includes the extension of Rustle Woods Avenue, Arthur Bonner Avenue, and Stoney Stanton Road, as well as the introduction of a new partial street block.

Senior Planner Carlson Tsang updated the council on a new proposal for the land in question. He stated, “The main change is the public park proposed north of Rustle Woods Avenue, the location is generally the same, but … the size of the park has been increased to 0.68 ha, which is large enough to support a potential school site on the adjacent subdivision.

“To accommodate this larger park, some of the GFA must be redistributed. So, as a result, the building height would increase to 25-32 storeys along Highway 7, 12-20 storeys for the central precinct between Arthur Bonner and Rustle Woods, and 6-8 storeys for the block north of Rustle Woods.” He did make clear to listeners that this is only a potential modification.

The Subject Lands are currently within the ‘Deferral 2’ area in the 2008 Cornell Secondary Plan (OPA 168), deferring policies from the 1995 Cornell Secondary Plan (OPA 20). The proposed project aims to remove the Subject Lands from ‘Deferral Area 2’ and introduce site-specific policies to enable the development. The zoning changes include rezoning the proposed parkland to “OS2 – Open Space” and the remaining land to “CA2 – Community Amenity Two.”

During the meeting, a comprehensive range of critical factors were highlighted for in-depth evaluation.

These factors encompassed: ensuring alignment with provincial, regional, and municipal official plans; the consideration of the Community Benefits Charges By-law; the incorporation of parkland dedication in synergy with neighbouring subdivisions; the provision of affordable housing; efficient allocation and servicing of water and sanitation facilities; the identification of a suitable location for an elementary school; a thorough assessment of environmental impacts, particularly concerning the removal of woodland and wetland features; scrutiny of building heights, population density, and overall compatibility with the surrounding area; an exhaustive analysis of traffic impacts and the availability of parking spaces; as well as the commitment to sustainability in accordance with the City’s Policies and Sustainability Metrics Program.

Additionally, the proposals will undergo external agency reviews by both York Region and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to ensure adherence to regulations and guidelines.

The proposed mixed-use development has garnered significant attention and will undergo thorough review and assessment by the city council, external agencies, and concerned stakeholders. The outcome of the statutory public meeting held on September 5, 2023, and the subsequent recommendation report by the Development Services Committee will play a crucial role in shaping the future of this development project.

As discussions continue and assessments progress, the fate of this ambitious project hangs in the balance, with potential modifications and a multitude of considerations to be weighed before a final decision is made. Citizens and stakeholders will undoubtedly follow this development closely as it unfolds in the coming months.

 

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